McGuire signs, capping busy weeks for high schooler
First-round Draft pick set to leave family in Washington, report to GCL
In the past few weeks, Reese McGuire finished his final season of high school baseball, went to prom, was drafted 14th overall in the First-Year Player Draft and inked a professional contract.
For an 18-year-old, it's a lot to handle in such a short time. But the thing that concerned McGuire the most?
"I was a little worried about the urine test, because in the past, I've had a little stage fright, or it took me a while," McGuire said at an introductory press conference Tuesday at PNC Park, drawing laughter from the room. "So I was most worried about how long it was going to take for me to go to the bathroom. But I was actually asking for the cup [this time] because I really had to go."
The Pirates announced they signed McGuire, one of their two first-round selections in the Draft who was previously committed to play at the University of San Diego. The Kentwood (Wash.) High School catcher signed for $2.369 million, about $200,000 below the slot value for the 14th pick. The club has signed 16 Draft picks so far, but is still negotiating with Austin Meadows, the ninth overall selection.
McGuire will start his professional career with the Gulf Coast League Pirates, standard placement for high school signees. Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said if McGuire shows enough improvement in the coming months, he could see some time with short-season Class A Jamestown.
McGuire was MLB.com's 10th-ranked Draft prospect and fifth-ranked high-school prospect. He also is a 2012-13 Gatorade Washington Player of the Year winner, and received the 2012 USA Baseball Dick Chase Award for his role in Team USA's 18-and-under gold-medal run at the IBAF 18U World Championship in Seoul, South Korea, last September.
The 6-foot-1 left-handed hitter batted .436 with 13 doubles, three triples, four home runs and 20 RBIs as a senior. He has been lauded for his defensive skills, which include athleticism, quick hands and a good pop time -- the seconds from the ball hitting a catcher's glove to his throw reaching second base. McGuire said his mark is usually between 1.82 and 1.85 seconds.
"He did things behind the plate I had never seen before, and we got to the point where there wasn't much coaching. He coached himself," said Scott McGuire, Reese's father.
McGuire played all over the diamond growing up. When he and his older brother, Cash, were in Little League, they would switch off as pitcher and catcher. But Cash, who just finished his freshman season as an infielder for Seattle University, started developing into a pitcher at age 11, so Reese was happy to stay behind the plate.
"I grew a passion and love for the position," McGuire said. "I wanted to be in the play every pitch."
McGuire has been calling his own games for several years, something many college catchers don't even do. That experience, coupled with growing up in a baseball-oriented family, has given McGuire an advanced knowledge of the game.
Scott recalled his son was the first of his Little League teammates to steal signs from the opposing team.
But there's much more to McGuire's game than just strong defense and baseball IQ. Huntington said McGuire has the chance to develop into a legitimate power hitter with a few years of growth and maturity.
"Most of the time, a criticism of a guy when he doesn't hit is because he hurts people's fantasy league team," Huntington said. "But in Reese's case, he's got the ability to help a fantasy league team and a real Major League team, because he can do a lot of things on the baseball field."
McGuire, despite his intelligence and baseball background, is still an 18-year-old who will be playing against players older and more physically mature in the coming years. But his mother, Robin, said her son still isn't totally a "man" and has room to get bigger, faster and stronger.
With all the emotions and experiences of the past few weeks, McGuire said he doesn't feel any different than he did a few months ago, despite now being a contracted professional athlete. The idea of being a first-round pick and potentially a Major League backstop still hasn't totally hit him.
"Once I get away, it's going to sink in," McGuire said.
While Scott and Robin are back in Washington, they won't get a chance to see their son mature and play everyday like they've grown accustomed to. But today's technology makes it much easier to connect with him and track his progress on the field, Robin said.
"You may not be there in the room with him, but you can see him, talk to him, that kind of thing," she said. "So it makes it a little bit easier."
Steven Petrella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.